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Flu started my migraines

In December 2012 I had the worst case of flu that I ever had in my life. I really thought I would not live through it. I had never had a migraine in my life, ever. I was 51 years old. Six weeks after the acute phase of the flu I began having skull-splitting migraines and seizures. I went through all of the usual tests with my neurologist — MRI, EEG, epilepsy center at a major university hospital, etc. All came back normal. All of my other doctors and I were convinced that the flu had turned on a gene that started the migraine and seizure activity. Two years ago I also started with essential tremors. I now know that I have hemiplegic migraine with speech aphasia.

My family is very familiar with my care regimen and I have tried to make friends at church, work, etc. familiar with what to do if I have an emergency and where my medicine is. It is really important to talk to people about what you have ahead of time so that when you start speaking gibberish and start to fall they know what to do and don’t call the ambulance! My husband has literally had to fight off the paramedics and so has my young son to keep them from taking me to the hospital. If I went to the ER every time I had an attack we’d be dead broke. At certain times of the year I have 3 attacks per week and my medicine seems to do no good. I often spend 14-16 hours in the bed after an attack. I would like to hear from others who suffer from hemiplegic migraine, especially if you are still working. Thanks.

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.


  • drewski
    2 years ago

    hemiplegic migraines sounds like it Must run in the family with a blood relative that had these exact type of migraines. Also the explanation on hemipelegic migraines states that one of the main action this migraine produces muscle weakness that goes away as migraine subsides.

  • nelag-g author
    2 years ago

    Even though flu started my migraines, my great-grandfather also had migraines but his were not hemiplegic. And you are right, the muscle weakness goes away but I have had it last as long as an hour. Also, my left foot invariably turns inward and this takes some time to right itself. The leg pain and low back pain that accompany the convulsions are excruciating, almost as bad as the migraine itself.

  • altag
    2 years ago

    Have you ever been tested to see if the illness you experienced was indeed the flu? Migraines were brought into my life by tick borne diseases (Lyme, Mycoplasma, Babesia) that I was unaware I had, and had gone untreated for years. Lyme can mimic flu like symptoms. Lyme bacteria left untreated can eventually take over your brain, creating terrible neurological symptoms – such as chronic migraines. I would recommend getting full panel blood work done – and see if you have harmful bacteria, such as Lyme, living in your body. See a specialist who offers this type of testing. Accurate testing can be done with Igenex / CD-57, only.

  • nelag-g author
    2 years ago

    Yes, I have been tested by my neurologist for all tick-borne illnesses and all came back negative. I’m a wildlife biologist and have a lot of friends who have Lyme disease so I was very familiar with that as a causative factor. But in my case it was the flu. Influenza can cause so many neurological/neuromuscular problems in the post-acute phase.

  • Nancy Harris Bonk moderator
    2 years ago

    Hi nelag-g,

    Thank you for sharing your story with us. While I don’t have hemplegic migraine (HM), a rare form of migraine disease, I understand how difficult it is to have a chronic illness. Have you seen these articles on HM? If so, please ignore;

    By any chance are you being treated by a true migraine/headache expert? These doctors are different from general neurologists in that they are board certified in headache medicine, which is different than being certified in neurology. I’m currently working with the 5th migraine expert and am finally getting somewhere. Here is an article that discusses how different these doctor are and how to find one; and

    Hopefully others will be along shortly to share their experiences with you.


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